A Sunday Ritual

It’s funny the things we find ourselves making into a ritual. Just something you do over and over and don’t realize it’s what you always do until one day you miss doing just that and you feel weird all day. Like something is missing. So you sit down and start thinking and figuring out what it is that feels so off. Then it dawns on you… and you realize you have a ritual.

Every Sunday I read Post Secret. I have been reading it for years now. I find the secrets funny, sad, revealing, obscene, honest, over-thought, under-thought… pretty much everything. They run the spectrum. They make me laugh and cry. They make me think. Mostly, I end up feeling just a little bit sadder than when I first clicked on the site.

To remedy that, I now follow Post Secret with Cake Wrecks. Sunday on Cake Wrecks isn’t their normal messed-up cake site. They have “Sunday Sweets”, which are beautiful, fun, whimsical, clever, and extremely well done cakes by professionals who actually know what they are doing. There is a different theme each week. It’s so fun to see these creations by some really talented artists. And I admit, I often love the commentary even more then the cakes. Jen and John (hubby of Jen) are just super funny and clever and probably have taken a restraining order out on my stalking self by now.

I was going to make a secret to send in to Post Secret, but since I’m telling you, I guess it won’t work. It’s not a secret anymore.

Every Sunday I log on to Post Secret and get sad. Then I log on to Cake Wrecks’ Sunday Sweets and cheer myself up.

Every single Sunday, without fail.

Laying Down the Law

I have had it. I try and I try to make myself clear to my children in my expectations. I try to give rewards when expectations are fulfilled. I have made out nice, type written, attractive-looking chore charts and lists. I have set timers and put on loud music. I have threatened, cajoled, promised, cried, screamed, pled, whispered, and begged in order to get things done.

All that ends now. I’m sticking with “The List” because when they follow The List, it works. But I’m serious this time. They don’t follow The List, they don’t get any privileges. None. We’re talking no screen time (computer or TV). No toys. No books. No friends. No park. No cub scouts. No sleepovers. No extra school activities. Nothing until The List has been completed.

I should not have to yell at my children 25 times in the space of 15 minutes to remind them to put on their clothes for school. I should not have to yell at them 25 times in the space of 15 minutes to brush their teeth. A 9 year old and a 6 year old are more than capable of picking out their own clothes and getting dressed. They don’t need me to sit in their room and make sure it’s getting done. I refuse to do it. And if that means they are late to school… so be it. I can not do everything for them. They know how to read. They know how to follow The List.

So why don’t they do it? Do they enjoy being late for school? Do they enjoy me being so upset that I lecture them the whole 4 miles drive to school? Do they enjoy having things taken away from them? I do not understand why they can’t just follow a few simple instructions.

I don’t like being the mom that has to yell in order to get anything done (and don’t tell me to whisper and talk calmly. I have tried that. Many, many times have I tried that. It. Doesn’t. Work. Maybe it works with your kids, but not mine.). I don’t like being the mom who’s last words as she drops her kids off to school are “run before the gate gets locked” rather than “have a good day! I love you!” I don’t like being the mom that never lets her kids invite friends over because they haven’t made their bed or picked up their Legos from three days ago. I don’t like being the mom that I am.

It’s my own fault. I do too much for them and can’t relinquish enough control. And then I just plain snap so easily. I want to be the nice, happy mom that is able to get her kids to fulfill the expectations without anger. I want this last month and a half of my pregnancy to be a joyful time with the three boys as we prepare for the baby. I don’t want to be full of stress and contention.

This morning I said to the boys that I’m laying down the law. They WILL do their chores. They WILL follow The List. Or they get nothing until The List has been completed. We’ll see how it goes. It feels like more of the same… I have been laying down the law for years. The boys do great for a few days… then go back to old habits. I let it happen.

Something’s got to change. Something’s got to give. I just don’t know what.

When Abnormal *IS* Normal!

As you may be aware, we have really been struggling with Aiden. He is very behind in his school work and just not performing up to his potential. No where near his potential. It’s frustrating how unfocused he can be. It’s disconcerting in so many ways. And it’s a major reason that we’re pursuing the ADD/ADHD route.

Last night I kept Aiden up until 11:11 pm, working on research and a rough draft. The rough draft was due last Friday. His final draft is due tomorrow. We will be up late again tonight because he will turn this paper in on time. I have been so overwhelmed by the amount of work he has to do and doesn’t get done. I even had a panic attack about the paper yesterday! I do not feel that I should be there, holding his hand constantly just so he can get his regular homework or school work done. He is 9 and a half years old and in the 4th grade. He should be able to get it done, right? He is given plenty of time at school and plenty of time at home to get the various assignments done. Yet things still get lost and forgotten. More like everything still gets lost and forgotten. I am at my wit’s end.

Today I got to volunteer in Aiden’s classroom again. I walked in and his teacher said, “How are you at math?” Normally I feel shaky, but some boys needed help on a math packet (that I had insisted on Aiden bringing home earlier in the week so he could get our help if needed and get it done early, thereby giving him more class time to work on stuff he kept leaving in his desk…), so I said, “Oh, I can do that!”

Please remember that Aiden is in a self-contained Gifted classroom. This means that ALL of the children in this class are exceptionally bright kids. They kind of scare me with their collective intelligence sometimes! However, it also means that each of these kids has different personal, social, mental, or emotional issues they have to deal with because of the “Gifted-ness”. It can be so fun to work with their fast little brains, but it can be very frustrating at times. And the level of work they do is so far advanced of what I did at that age!! Wow. It’s hard to keep up with them, and I’m just so grateful for the teacher in this class because she is so wonderful for these kids. She really gets them. She likes each and every one of these kids! She works so well with and for them. I love to watch her interact with the kids and I love to watch her teach.

Anyway, so I took three boys out in the hall to a table so we could work without distraction. These boys really didn’t need my help (other than an initial “How many mL are there in a liter? I know you don’t like working with metrics. Neither do I. We’re American. But Aiden’s dad is Canadian and he totally helped us, so it’s easy. Let’s think this through…” Quite comical, actually.). They are smart and can problem solve and think and they really knew what they were doing for the entire packet. No, what I really had to do was sit next to them and say, “Do your work. Do your work. Got that question done? Good. Do the next one. No, don’t talk to Jaedin. Do your work. Darius, do not go get another drink of water. Do the next question. Yes, Jaedin, I know he’s distracting you. Aidan D., stop distracting Jaedin. No, Darius, you can not have a second one of Rachel’s birthday donuts. You can finish your question. Aiden D., get a pencil you can actually write with and then finish the page.”

It was exactly — I really mean exactly — like working with my own Aiden. It’s constant redirection and focusing. It’s a constant presence to make sure they get the work done. Like I said, they are all smart enough they can do the work with no help. They just need someone there making sure they get it done.

After my volunteer time was up I went to pick up Parker from preschool. I was talking to a mom at the park after preschool. This mom also has a daughter in Aiden’s class. I mentioned that Aiden had to stay up late to finish his rough draft and how we’ve been spending so much time trying to play catch up that I think he’s getting behind in a lot of his current work. Best thing I heard? She said, “SAME HERE!!” She had to keep her daughter up late to finish one assignment a couple of days ago and her daughter just turned in another major assignment (that was due weeks ago… and one that we want Aiden to redo since he only got 11 out of 52 points) just today. Her daughter kept asking, “Can’t I just go lie down for a minute? Can’t I have a short break?” It is exactly like Aiden!!

The moral to my story? I do not at all think it’s normal for kids to be this unfocused on a regular basis. However, Aiden isn’t the only one. All of these kids are abnormal, thus making them normal. It makes me breathe so much easier to know that we are all fighting the same fight.

Oh, guess what? I’m going to win, too. Aiden is being taught to be responsible and focused. It will work. I will win. There is no other option.